Oct 27, 2022
Matthew Concepcion of South Florida has been crowned the Ultimate Grand Prize winner of the Florida Python Challenge. The 19-year-old killed 28 Burmese pythons in the Everglades. That earned him the title and a $10,000 prize.
The Everglades is a tropical wetland ecosystem. It's located in Florida. The Everglades has marshes, mangrove forests, and cypress swamps. It's a diverse but fragile habitat for native wildlife. It is vulnerable to invasive species like Burmese pythons. The snakes likely came from Asia as exotic pets. The number of Burmese pythons in the area has grown. They prey on indigenous species like bobcats, panthers, and deer.
Concepcion was one of 1,000 snake hunters from across the US, Canada, and Latvia to take part in the competition, all of whom were praised by Florida Governor Ron DeSantis for helping “to restore and maintain the Everglades ecosystem.”
To win the prize, Concepcion had to document where and how he found the snakes. They can reach lengths of up to 16 feet! He also had to provide proof that he had killed them humanely. To win the tournament, he had a strategy.
“I worked a levee, caught a couple hatchings, and was like, ‘Dang, this might be the ticket!’” Concepcion told ABC News. “So every single night from then on, I went out there — just before sundown to sunup.”
Of his winnings, Concepcion says he plans to rig his truck with new floodlights. It'll help him spot more pythons next year.
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